Caxton Legal Centre encounters many cases where staff at aged care facilities do not understand the rights and responsibilities of attorneys as substitute decision-makers under Queensland laws. These include that when an attorney is exercising decision-making powers, the adult’s views must be sought and taken into account to the greatest extent practicable. It is also a requirement that the person’s existing supportive relationships should be maintained. This is not the case for Stacey and Bob, a de facto couple, who have not seen each other since Bob was admitted to a nursing home and Stacey has not been permitted to visit.
Bob’s adult child is his attorney. Motivated by a fear of loss of inheritance, Bob’s attorney is blocking Stacey’s attempts to visit Bob and the aged care home where Bob lives is supporting this. On Bob’s admission to the facility Stacey attempted to visit him numerous times but was eventually deterred after aged care facility staff threatened to contact the police if she continued to do so. As Bob’s health deteriorates, Stacey is increasingly concerned that she will not see him again before he passes, nor be able to attend his funeral. This is exacerbating Stacey’s anxiety and distress as she struggles to cope.
While Covid-19 has slowed Caxton’s attempts to advocate for Stacey to be able to visit Bob, Caxton Legal Centre has continued to assist her with an application to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. Stacey has adjusted her expectations around visiting Bob as a result of social distancing measures and is now seeking contact with him by telephone. She continues to await the telephone conference with QCAT in the hope of seeing her beloved partner again. Caxton Legal Centre is providing ongoing social work support to Stacey with the goal of increasing her wellbeing, safety and independence.